Listening to all the Keyshawn and TO talk got me thinking about the true impact that Parcells had on this year’s Dallas Cowboys team.
First, let’s point out the new players on this year’s team (impact players only)
- Leonard Davis
And that’s really it. Now, let’s talk about guys who are having a bigger impact this year:
- Romo – started his first game Oct 23 against the Giants. Had 6 really good weeks and then 3 out of the last five games of the season he had a QB rating below 60. Which is terrible. Did not play very well in the playoff game last year. Besides the fumbled snap, the offense only produced 13 points.
- Barber – getting more carries this year and more receptions. Higher YPC average this year than last
- Crayton and the other WR’s…bigger numbers from all mostly due to Glenn’s injury
- Ratliff – has stepped up since Ferguson’s injury and is now getting spelled by Tank
- Jacques Reeves – has been a starter for the entire season because of injuries after barely playing last year.
- Pat Watkins – playing in passing situations after struggling as a rookie last year
- Bradie James – playing much much better than last year
Now, I think everyone can agree that part of the reason Romo is playing better is because of the added experience and the rest is probably due to Jason Garrett who was hired to take over play calling duties from Tony Sparano who is still on the staff. Barber is just being used more and playing even better than last year. Crayton and the WR’s are a year older, more experienced and flourishing in Garrett’s offense and Romo’s abilities.
The defense was a young one last year and a lot of those guys like Canty, Ware, Ratliff, Burnett, Hatcher, Reeves, and Watkins are just playing better because they are better players than they were last year. Some of those guys switched positions from college, some were coming off injuries and some came from small schools and needed time to adjust.
I think their are two huge things going in the Cowboys favor this year. One, they changed the offensive and defensive coordinators. Garrett has been fantastic and his game calling almost flawless…sort of like what Sean Payton had going on last year. But, the one thing no one seems to talk about is the departure of Zimmer and the hiring of Brian Stewart. Zimmer was a terrible 3-4 coach and partly because of that, the team played a very vanilla defense. The other part of course, was that we couldn’t stop the pass because our FS couldn’t cover up for Roy’s and Bradie’s bad play last year. Stewart has taken Roy out of pass coverage by moving him to LB on passing situations or better yet…to the sideline. Hamlin has played well and so has Watkins and Bradie, for whatever reason, is just playing great this year.
The players were in place for this year’s Cowboys but the coordinator’s were not. They have made a huge impact on this team. And the other huge thing in the Cowboys favor this year? No injuries to the offensive line. Ask the Rams fans about this one, or the Eagles, or the Redskins (who have fabini starting at guard). The Cowboys have played with the same starting left side of the line for two years now without injuries. That includes center Andre Gurode. You can add Marc Columbo to that list as well after he won the job in training camp last year. The addition of Bigg Davis to replace the ancient Rivera has just solidified things upfront. Also, Witten and the running backs have played together without significant injuries as well…making pass blocking even stronger.
The injuries and coordinators are really the two things that stand out to me on this Cowboys team. The players were in place last year and who knows how far they would have gone had Romo not dropped that snap. I think Parcells knew this team could win it all this year but I think he knew that him being here would make it harder and not easier. He’s not a stupid guy and you have to believe he realized this and instead of chasing that ring at all costs, he stepped aside and let someone else guide this team to what should be a super bowl appearance. And Wade should be given all the credit in the world for this as he is doing a job that Parcells could not have this year.
As for TO’s gripes on the offense last year, no coach would have let Romo sling it around last year like this year. He was very shaky down the stretch last year and could have easily lost his confidence and that would have damaged him for good. And TO, you might want to remember that one of the coaches you are griping about is still on the staff…Tony Sparano.